Greetings again from the darkness. I’ll try to avoid the temptation of including overtly cute food references … especially those that might leave a bad taste (!). Writer-director Cristoffer Boe and his talented co-writer Tobias Lindholm (ANOTHER ROUND, THE HUNT) have collaborated on a film that centers on the world of haute cuisine, and how it can impact the mindset and relationships of those immersed in what may be the most bizarre art form on the planet. Despite the strain of the co-working spouses, rather than describing this as a romantic drama, I believe it might be better termed an obsessive drama.
Maggi (Katrine Gries-Rosenthal) and her husband Carsten (Nikoaj Coster-Waldau, “Game of Thrones”) have been working together for 10 years to build a special restaurant in Copenhagen with the goal of earning a Michelin star. We see how committed to the cause they are, and while they appear to have a solid marriage and are decent parents, it’s clear the kids and the family are not the priority that the quest for that star is.
While most of us are challenged with balancing family and profession, the obsessive tendencies displayed by both Maggi and Carsten are a bit unsettling. To what lengths would you go in order to achieve your dream? At what point does that obsession negatively impact other aspects of your life, and when it happens, will you even notice? What happens if your young daughter … in this case Chloe (Flora Augusta) notices and is impacted?
Director Boe opens with the perfect quote from Kathy Acker: “If you ask me what I want, I’ll tell you. I want everything.” Of course, like everyone with this attitude before them, Maggi and Carsten discover their ego and obsessiveness carries a hefty price. Everything is not possible without sacrifice, which means everything is not possible. Boe also splits the film into cooking-related terms: Sweet, Sour, Fat, Salt, Heat, etc. It’s a tad tricky, but we can see how the labels fit each section. Another lesson we learn is that blackmail is never a good strategy when wooing a lover, but here it serves to confront Maggi with quite the dilemma
Food and obsession are two common movie themes, and here we get an explosive food obsession, although the food is merely the conduit in the pursuit of the award and the recognition that comes with it. Unbridled ambition is rarely attractive and often ends with a dose of disappointment or come-uppance. Director Boe, and two fine lead performances, give us a seat at the table for all courses.
A TASTE FOR HUNGER is being released in theaters on January 28, 2022
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